10 Things That I Love: One: Music

27 October 2010

This me in 2002 at Whitby Goth Weekend. I don’t know who the other person is. To distract you from the lack of actual interesting content, I have opted to illustrate this post with photographs of myself in embarrassing goth poses.

I used to have a Live Journal for a very long time before I started this blog and within it’s maudlin pages there lies many many hours worth of malingering, woe, backstabbing and hyperbole. This blog was always meant to be very different – about my writing and more abstract external interests rather than about me, if you see what I mean?

Anyway, I have of late started to write a bit more about myself – not revealing too much but still giving away little snippets of irrelevant information that I think you may find interesting. For instance if you have been paying attention you will now know that I used to be a goth, that I went to Nottingham University, that I don’t have a Maths GCSE and that Ville from HIM really hates me.

In this spirit of sharing a bit more, I thought I would write a series of blog posts about things that I really like. There’s no particular reason for this, I just wanted to talk at you all about them. It would have been more cutting edge, obviously, to talk about things that I really hate or whatever but I decided to go for a happier theme.

So, here we go: music. To illustrate, have a picture of me in April 2003 at Whitby Goth Weekend. This photo was taken by someone that I used to know and don’t like at all, which is why I look a bit unamused. Note very ungothic kettle in the background. One day I’m going to start a Tumblr about goths posing in front of household objects and floral curtains.

I was actually going to write a post about just one band but then thought it would be kinder and less mad to make it more general, so here goes. *cracks knuckles*

I was brought up by my grandparents, which is, I think, of some relevance here as the music that your parents play has some influence over the music that you inevitably listen to until the point when you realise that you can go to a shop and buy some of your own. My grandparents were not unlike most grandparents in that they liked to listen to country and western, opera and David Bowie.

At the age of ten, I remember being transfixed by the sight of Dead or Alive playing You Spin Me Round on Top of the Pops. ‘I want to be like that,’ I said. My family all laughed. And they were right to do so. Shortly after this, I also discovered Siousxie and the Banshees, PiL and The Damned and my fate, it would seem, was sealed. Crimpers, joss sticks and black clothes were a mere stagger away.

This is me. I probably thought I looked awesome. I was wrong.

The first band that I ever got passionately into was New Order. This was at about twelve, when I stayed up late at night to watch one of their concerts on BBC1 and saved up to buy Substance on cassette tape, which I then listened to until it fell apart. I still love them now actually although I have had long periods along the way of not listening to them at all.

I would have to say that Regret, so melancholy and yet beautiful is my favourite song of all time. The lines: ‘I was upset you see, almost all the time. You used to be a stranger, now you are mine‘ never fail to move me. In fact the whole song resonates and shimmers with some bitter sweet mostly forgotten memory for me.

Cor, cheer up goth.

I cheated on New Order though, whore that I am. The first single I ever bought wasn’t by them – it was a murdering of Strawberry Fields Forever by a band called Candy Flip. The first song I ever taped on the radio was Harvester of Sorrow by Metallica. There were also lengthy periods of only listening to Jean Michel Jarre, Erasure and The Pet Shop Boys.

I feel now like I got into The Pet Shop Boys in a rather backward manner as I discovered my love of synth music thanks to New Order but then took a bit of a step backwards. No matter. Neil Tennant was my first big crush until I switched my adolescent affections to Chris Lowe after watching a video and realising that the grumpy taciturn half of any duo is inevitably my preference. I still love The Pet Shop Boys – if you want to see me dance just play one of their songs, any one will do, and off I go.

The first album I bought was Dirt by Alice in Chains, just because I liked the cover art. I liked the music too but it was the artwork that did it for me. After this there was no stopping me as I built up a huge collection of stuff by All About Eve, The Mission, The Cult, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cure and, my favourite of all, Fields of the Nephilim.

I quite fancy myself with black hair, but it could have done with a bit more volume. I was growing out a severe undercut when this photo was taken though so mea culpa.

My thing for Fields of the Nephilim was the next big music phase for me and lasted throughout sixth form, university and a little bit beyond. At seventeen I acquired my first boyfriend: an over weight goth role player from Chippenham who was six years my senior, and it was he who formed my musical tastes at this time by introducing me to Nine Inch Nails, Butthole Surfers, Faith No More, Lard and other such delights.

I had this picture next to my bed for many, many, many virginal years.

I liked Fields of the Nephilim best though. To the unitiated, the best way to describe them is, oh, I don’t know. Basically, they were a slightly pretentious goth band from Hertfordshire who dressed up as cowboys and covered themselves with flour. Their songs, all with an occultish theme, were sung by their gravel voiced and unspeakably hot lead singer Carl McCoy. Cor, he was really lovely. Imagine if you will, my excitement when I finally got to see them play a few years later at Rock City in Nottingham. I was right at the front thoughout, almost swooning against the stage as Carl McCoy knelt in front of me to sing Moonchild.

It was at seventeen that I realised that not only could I buy records but I could also go and actually see bands play their songs! Live! Which is what I duly did. My first gig was Peter and the Test Tube Babies in a pub in Colchester, which I would rather not talk about. Let’s instead talk about my first big proper gig, which was The Young Gods supported by Sheep on Drugs and Meat Beat Manifesto at the Kilburn Ballroom on the 9th September 1992. It was very good. Amazing in fact.

Other gigs followed, including what I think was an early Hole show in Clapham in early 1993 and Mudhoney at Manchester Academy on my birthday in 1992. Stuff like that. It was at this time that I began to move away from goth and started instead to dress in nightgowns, dye my hair hot pink and blonde and play music by Hole, Babes in Toyland, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Daisy Chainsaw and Curve. I thought I was super cool but in fact I probably looked a mess with my pallid face, bright red lipstick, ripped up stockings and tendency to fall sideways out of cabs when drunk.

This is me during my third year at university. I don’t look much like a typical art history undergraduate do I. The person I am with in this photograph was studying Classics. I know, right.

Anyway! My taste in music hasn’t really changed that much since my undergraduate days. I have had periods now and again when I decide that no, actually, I am not going to be a goth any more and I make myself dress in Boden in a vain attempt to fit in, but it never works out. Right now, as I type this seeming essay, I have long tangled pink hair and am wearing black knee high knitted black stockings and a dishevilled Victorian style dress. I am listening to AFI sing their version of Jack the Ripper and in a second will be listening to Thick as Thieves by Kasabian.

I still have phases – I’ve been a chronic Mesh fangirl for about eight years now (words can’t express how much I love and adore them) and can ramble on for hours about my passionate love of Hurts, Emilie Autumn, Lady Gaga and Massive Attack. My friend Zazz also wants me to mention how over excited I get by Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat but I don’t think I want to dwell on this to be honest.

Will I always be a goth? Yes, probably, but most likely not in the same way. A few years ago I was all about the big stupid hair, goggles and hot pink whereas these days I like to look like a Victorian gentlewoman who has fallen on very hard times. It’s lucky that I have never been too concerned about looking attractive isn’t it?


Anyway, that ramble was the first of the ten things. Maybe I’ll post another one tomorrow or maybe, rendered miserable and mute by the lack of response to this one, I will never ever mention it again. Who knows.


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